2013 has thus far already proven to be a good year for my cycling. I took the plunge in the first week of January to enter my first amateur race in a sport since my primary seven swimming gala - yes, I gave track league a go.
Having watched the Category D races just before Christmas I was encouraged by the fact that it was a full field of women and surmised that this would be a regular occurrence.
Wrong!!!! January 3rd I nervously pinned my race numbers onto my jersey and lined up on the track with my hired bike alongside 17 guys and one other girl.
Category D is now known as ‘accredited riders new to track league’ so anything goes! Talk about a baptism of fire.
I discovered very quickly just how important positioning is and found myself sitting well above the blue line alongside the bunch with no conceivable way of dropping in without causing a bit of a catastrophe.
I held on for as long as I could but once I was dropped I was monumentally dropped and had to admit defeat. We also rode a 20 lap points, elimination and another 10 lap scratch.
I competed in every race and enjoyed it but was given a massive wake up call as to how much I need to practice my speed endurance. I have since been back several times and have purchased a shiny new track bike so I am in this for the long haul - at the moment my aim is merely to finish a race in the bunch.
I went along to watch Revolution Series at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome last Saturday and was in awe once again of how the pros ride - having experienced racing on those boards myself it was quite something to watch Ed Clancy and local hero James McCallum storm the points race, flying lap and madison TT to gain overall victory for Rapha Condor JLT. I now know how my father feels watching The Masters at Augusta.
From the warmth and dry of the track to the Scottish winter - I have so far been at every Sunday morning club ride this year and have experienced some pretty horrendous riding conditions in the process.
The company of my club mates has spurred me on and although we are only doing 40 miles at a time it is all good base training - and the club continues to go from strength to strength.
I’m not sure there can be many other clubs in the country that can boast 45 members on a club run on February 3 (and if there are then my hearty congratulations go out to you!)
Today there were just 15 of us as the weather warnings were for snow and high winds. The wise decision was made by club captains to ride at low level on our ‘default route’ and it was absolutely sodding miserable - it rained from start to finish with one or two spells of sleet, a nasty headwind on the return journey and so cold that I was actually beginning to contemplate how I would be able to extract teeth when frostbite had claimed some fingers. Thankfully we returned safely and with all digits intact.
Having dried off and partially heated up I then headed across to Strathclyde Country Park with some fellow club riders to watch the Scottish cyclo-cross championships. This is a branch of cycling that I know relatively little about and found it to be a most enjoyable spectator sport. T
he conditions were tough to say the least and hats off to our club captain Andy Dobinson who was taking part in his first ever cross race, straight in at the deep end with the national championships! Gold medallist Rab Wardell was awesome to watch, he made it look almost effortless and he won by a margin of over four minutes. But I don’t think this is a discipline I will be participating anytime soon; track bikes are far easier to clean!